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BMW's M Division has been churning out go-faster versions of its mainstream models since the 1970s. But the Bavarian carmaker's expanding line-up means that the M Division also gains a few more rather interesting cars, such as the X5 M.

15 Sep 2011

Cover story
Aggressive: The X5 M evokes a menacing presence, with its flared bumper air vents matching well with the test car's Sapphire Black paintwork. You don't want to mess with it for sure.
he legend goes that BMW's M Division was started by a few engineers who were working after-hours to develop faster versions
of BMW's mainstream cars. While the true accuracy of that story can't be completely verified, there is no doubt that the M Division has come a long way since then.

With BMW's product range expanding rapidly in this very competitive age, the M Division has also benefited from a few rather, unique models, namely the opinion-polarising X6 M and the X5 M.
While purists might decry at the perceived dilution of the M badge with the introduction of these models, BMW has stated that it is merely responding to customer demand. And to that end, they're not wrong in filling voids as requested by their clients.

The X5 M probably makes more sense than the X6 M, given that performance off-roaders are now a mainstay in several premium manufacturers' line-ups. The big daddy of rocket SUVs is of course the Porsche Cayenne, but how close can the X5 M get to the snatching the Cayenne's mantle?
Exterior

All M cars have a distinct presence that marks them out from their non-M counterparts, and the X5 M is no different.

Of course, being a performance car, all the added bits are there for a reason. The gaping air vents direct air flow into the radiators, and the rear roof spoiler aid aerodynamics.

Other visual enhancements include the slightly wider and lower squat, the chrome M gills with side indicators along the front fenders, the quad exhausts pipes poking out from the redesigned rear bumper, and the matt black slats on the trademark BMW kidney grille. The latter feature especially, when combined with the test car's Black Sapphire paintwork, evokes a no-nonsense stance that would send children scurrying away.
Hear me roar: Push the engine start stop button, and hear the throaty V8 powerplant come to life.
PAGE 2
Cover story
Chunky monkey: The 4.4-litre twin-turbocharged engine that powers the X5 M offers incredible performance, sending the nearly 2.4-tonne off-roader into stratospheric limits. It's almost physics-defying.
Interior

Inside, the X5 M shares the same basic interior layout as the standard X5. It still seats five, in reasonable comfort, and there is decent luggage space. The integrated iDrive information system works well via the controller beside the gear lever, and there is an amazing camera that is activated upon reverse, and offers a bird’s eye view of proceedings, which is very useful for a car of its size.

But there are of course subtle differences to let you know that this is no ordinary X5.

Various M badges adorn the interior, and the carbon fibre trim on the dashboard exudes a sporty ambience. There are also a couple of features that hint at what lurks beneath this monster.

The paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel, for example, are finished in brushed metal, and there is a nifty head-up display, which projects information such as the car’s speed onto the windscreen, directly in the driver’s line of sight. In ‘normal’ mode, that’s all you get. But in M Dynamic Mode, the HUD also shows the gear the car is currently in, as well as a colourful tachometer that goes from green, to yellow, to orange, to red at the rev-line. How appropriate.
You'll also note a couple of extra buttons that are unique to this performance powerhouse. The EDC button, located down by the gear lever, stands for Electronic Damping Control. This adjusts the suspension, from capably comfortable to rock-hard stiff, all in the name of better handling of course.

Then, there is that tiny and inconspicuous M button, located on the steering wheel itself. Discreet it might be, but that button unleashes a whole lot of magic once it is activated, as we will soon see.

The Drive

As you push the engine start-stop button on the X5 M and hear the 4.4-litre V8 twin-turbo engine roar to life, you'll just know that something special awaits you.

On its own, the X5 M already provides for some blistering performance. With 555bhp and 680Nm of torque, this almost 2.4 tonne behemoth blitzes to 100km/h from standstill in just 4.5 seconds.
PAGE 3
Cover story
But it is the way it does it that is worth noting. In 'normal' mode, the X5 M achieves its rate of speed smoothly and without fuss, swatting away slower traffic like as though they don't exist.

Push the much-vaunted M button though, and you'll feel a marked difference. The throttle response is sharper, and you'll propel towards triple-figure speeds and beyond faster than you can say "M Dynamic Mode".

As with all modern BMWs, the M Dynamic Mode is highly customisable, with the EDC, M Drive and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) functions all available to set to one's desire, whether you want it to be hard-core all the time, or just a bit more sedate.

The trade-off for that bahn-storming performance though, is that the X5 M drinks like a camel. The argument is that if you are able to afford an X5 M, it probably won't matter to you anyway, but still, an indicated 4.8 km per litre when we had the test car for just a couple of days without much hard driving is an astonishing figure.

And having established that the X5 M is able to annihilate most cars in a straight line, it is a surprise to find that the beefy off-roader more than holds its own in the corners as well. In fact, it feels decidedly car-like in its demeanour, with its well-weighted steering providing good feedback.
Ride quality depends very much on which setting you prefer to have it in, but under most circumstances the X5 M copes fairly well on Singapore’s well-paved roads, although of course there is a noticeable firmness to it.

One final point. The X5 M’s brakes are incredibly effective, and haul the car back to earth from insane speeds very well. Perhaps it might be a bit too sharp for some, but it just requires a little getting used to. For sure, you’ll be thankful for them once you’ve experienced the X5 M’s abilities.

Conclusion

In truth, while the X5 M is quite an enjoyable car to have, it is a pity that its full capabilities are unlikely to see much use in the real world.

In that sense, the X5 M is almost like a supercar, with its crushing performance, incredible thirst, and sheer silliness of the idea.

Sure it makes no sense in the real world, but sometimes, that is what makes life so special.

Just the thought of a large SUV like the X5 M being able to go head-to-head with some of the fastest sports cars in the world, is enough to put a smile on my face.
Engine
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Engine capacity 4,395cc
Engine Type V8 Twin-turbocharged
Compression ratio 9.3
Bore x Stroke (89.0 x 88.3) mm
Power 555 bhp
Torque 680 Nm
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Performance
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Acceleration 4.7s (0-100 kmh)
Top speed 250 kmh
Fuel consumption 7.1 km\L
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Misc Technical Data
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Transmission 6-speed (A) M sport
Drive type AWD
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Measurements
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Body type SUV
Dimensions (L x W x H)
(4851 x 1994 x 1764) mm
Wheelbase 2,933 mm
Min turning radius unknown
Kerb weight 2,380 kg
Fuel tank capacity 85 L
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Brakes
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Brakes (Front) Ventilated disc
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated disc
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What we reckon
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The good  Whacking great performance
The bad  Fuel consumption (but you'd expect that)
Mmm: At the end of the day, the M badge always represents something special. And the X5 M is no different.

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Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

V8 Twin-turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

4395cc

Horsepower

:

414kW (555 bhp) / 6000 rpm

Torque

:

680 Nm / 5650 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (A) M sport

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

4.7sec

Top Speed

:

250km/h

Fuel consumption

:

7.2 km/L

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